Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state recently announced that 21,780 out of the 33,000 teachers failed basic four examination . It would be recalled that the state government administered competence test on the public primary school teachers to determine those that are fit to be called teachers. Surprisingly, details of the results revealed that 11,591(33.9%) scored 75% and above while 8,047(23.58%) of them scored between 0 and 59%.
Were the teachers not aware of the aptitude test? Or, were the questions set by externals? The answer is NO. The exercise was done in conjunction with TRCN while NUT leaders supervised it in the 23 local government areas. Also included in the committee chaired by the SSG, Balarabe Lawal was the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education. This implies that the state has one million and one points to justify the conduct of the test and its eventual stand.
Although, the benchmark for pass mark was 75%, 21, 780 teachers were unable to make it. The labour body, NLC,demanded 60% as pass mark. This is the crux of the matter. The state government is not rescinding its decision to sack the “unqualified” teachers. It has advertised vacancies for 25,000 qualified ones. Amazingly, more than 23,000 supposedly qualified applicants have submitted their letters, and, December 27, 2017 and January 8, 2018 have been fixed for written exam and oral interview respectively .
But, lets consider this. What distinguishes an ordinary teacher from a qualified/certified/good teacher? An ordinary teacher teaches with/without the requisite knowledge, while a good teacher is one who has incredible knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject matter. He is ever ready to answer questions. Such a teacher has earned credentials from a higher education institution. Therefore, one needs to be inquisitive about the status of the Kaduna teachers. Were they certified? How many are computer or ICT compliant? Is there any imbalance in the teachers distribution between rural and urban areas?
To be factual, though, the Kaduna state government is resolute to revamp the declining level of education, it needs to think beyond sacking the unfit teachers. The unqualified can be improved upon through various mechanisms. Laying them off will do more harm than good. What do you expect from teachers deployed to the remote areas of the state without any incentives? Training and retraining of teachers is an indispensable tool to making them highly productive. Teachers´ salaries are artificially low, hence; people take up the job when they do not have any alternative. And that partly accounts for low-quality. Dramatic increase in pay will attract high-quality graduates into the profession.
It will be funny to say one did not understand how Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, could be so gaga over the uncertain situation and the impending tsunami hanging over the Kaduna state public primary school teachers. Of the fourteen objectives of the NLC, one is, ” to promote and defend the rights, well-being and interests of workers in the work-place and society”. The protest of November 8, 2017 was, consequently, in line. The El-Rufaiology is supposedly sincere about saving the next generation but caution should be applied so that, today´s step will not be a calm before the storm.
Bukola T. Hameed.